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Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Urban commercial real estate has always been a rough-and-tumble scrum, and now has torn up the playbook. Across the country, many brick-and-mortar retailers are in big trouble.
But there's an opening in this bad news that you can ride a bike through.
Bikes, it turns out, seem to be a perfect way to get people to the few retail categories that are thriving in the age of mail-order everything: bars, restaurants and personal services. And in Portland, where an early investment in basic bikeways has made bikes a popular way to run errands, retailers are responding by snapping up strorefronts with good bike exposure.
"All the bike traffic is part of the reason I chose the place, and I am definitely paying a premium for this spot," said Shana Lane-Block, whose 30-seat farm-to-table cafe and bakery Compote opened in 2011 on Portland's Clinton Street bike boulevard. "In the nice weather, it is astonishing to me how many bicycles go by."
When Jon Kellogg started redeveloping vacant buildings along Portland's North Williams Avenue in the mid-2000s, he might have laughed at the idea that its six-foot-wide bike lane could be a meaningful river of revenue for his tenants.
"I think there were 375 bikes a day on Williams," Kellogg said. "We saw some bikes there, and frankly didn't think twice about it."
Then Portland's bike boom happened. Drawn to Williams by gentrifying neighborhoods and a long straight route in and out of downtown, the number of bike commuters on the corridor doubled once, twice, three times. By 2010, Kellogg's firm Adaptive Development Company was designing an entire retail development around businesses that would either serve bicyclists or draw on the appeal bikes brought to the area.

[Keep reading at Green Lane Project]


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